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Scanning Tunneling Microscope Study of Etch Pits on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite Heated in an Atomic Absorption Electrothermal Analyzer

Volume 51, Number 12 (Dec. 1997) Page 1896-1904

Vandervoort, Kurt G.; Mclain, Kristin N.; Butcher, David J.

Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) was used to elucidate monolayer etch pits that form on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) heated in an electrothermal analyzer. Pits form at elevated temperatures due to reactions between oxygen and exposed carbon edge atoms (defects) and additionally with intraplanar carbon atoms (through abstraction). Samples of HOPG without analyte or matrix modifier were placed in the depression of a pure pyrolytic graphite platform and heated by using standard analysis furnace programs. Under argon stop-flow conditions, pits form in less than a second at atomization temperatures equal to and above 1200 C. With low argon flow rates (40 mL/min), pits formed at atomization temperatures equal to and greater than 1750 C in less than a second. Quantitative pit formation rates were used to indicate oxygen partial pressure, which may be as high as ~ 10 -3 atm at 1200 C. Reaction rates were used to predict surface degradation due to oxygen attack and determine that 1- mu m depth normal to the surface would be removed by 200 successive 5-second-period furnace firings at 1200 C. Implications for increases in surface reactivity and analyte intercalation are discussed.